Skip to Content
OpenStax Logo
Principles of Accounting, Volume 1: Financial Accounting

1.2 Identify Users of Accounting Information and How They Apply Information

Principles of Accounting, Volume 1: Financial Accounting1.2 Identify Users of Accounting Information and How They Apply Information
Buy book
  1. Preface
  2. 1 Role of Accounting in Society
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 1.1 Explain the Importance of Accounting and Distinguish between Financial and Managerial Accounting
    3. 1.2 Identify Users of Accounting Information and How They Apply Information
    4. 1.3 Describe Typical Accounting Activities and the Role Accountants Play in Identifying, Recording, and Reporting Financial Activities
    5. 1.4 Explain Why Accounting Is Important to Business Stakeholders
    6. 1.5 Describe the Varied Career Paths Open to Individuals with an Accounting Education
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Questions
  3. 2 Introduction to Financial Statements
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 2.1 Describe the Income Statement, Statement of Owner’s Equity, Balance Sheet, and Statement of Cash Flows, and How They Interrelate
    3. 2.2 Define, Explain, and Provide Examples of Current and Noncurrent Assets, Current and Noncurrent Liabilities, Equity, Revenues, and Expenses
    4. 2.3 Prepare an Income Statement, Statement of Owner’s Equity, and Balance Sheet
    5. Key Terms
    6. Summary
    7. Multiple Choice
    8. Questions
    9. Exercise Set A
    10. Exercise Set B
    11. Problem Set A
    12. Problem Set B
    13. Thought Provokers
  4. 3 Analyzing and Recording Transactions
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 3.1 Describe Principles, Assumptions, and Concepts of Accounting and Their Relationship to Financial Statements
    3. 3.2 Define and Describe the Expanded Accounting Equation and Its Relationship to Analyzing Transactions
    4. 3.3 Define and Describe the Initial Steps in the Accounting Cycle
    5. 3.4 Analyze Business Transactions Using the Accounting Equation and Show the Impact of Business Transactions on Financial Statements
    6. 3.5 Use Journal Entries to Record Transactions and Post to T-Accounts
    7. 3.6 Prepare a Trial Balance
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Questions
    12. Exercise Set A
    13. Exercise Set B
    14. Problem Set A
    15. Problem Set B
    16. Thought Provokers
  5. 4 The Adjustment Process
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 4.1 Explain the Concepts and Guidelines Affecting Adjusting Entries
    3. 4.2 Discuss the Adjustment Process and Illustrate Common Types of Adjusting Entries
    4. 4.3 Record and Post the Common Types of Adjusting Entries
    5. 4.4 Use the Ledger Balances to Prepare an Adjusted Trial Balance
    6. 4.5 Prepare Financial Statements Using the Adjusted Trial Balance
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Questions
    11. Exercise Set A
    12. Exercise Set B
    13. Problem Set A
    14. Problem Set B
    15. Thought Provokers
  6. 5 Completing the Accounting Cycle
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 5.1 Describe and Prepare Closing Entries for a Business
    3. 5.2 Prepare a Post-Closing Trial Balance
    4. 5.3 Apply the Results from the Adjusted Trial Balance to Compute Current Ratio and Working Capital Balance, and Explain How These Measures Represent Liquidity
    5. 5.4 Appendix: Complete a Comprehensive Accounting Cycle for a Business
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary
    8. Multiple Choice
    9. Questions
    10. Exercise Set A
    11. Exercise Set B
    12. Problem Set A
    13. Problem Set B
    14. Thought Provokers
  7. 6 Merchandising Transactions
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 6.1 Compare and Contrast Merchandising versus Service Activities and Transactions
    3. 6.2 Compare and Contrast Perpetual versus Periodic Inventory Systems
    4. 6.3 Analyze and Record Transactions for Merchandise Purchases Using the Perpetual Inventory System
    5. 6.4 Analyze and Record Transactions for the Sale of Merchandise Using the Perpetual Inventory System
    6. 6.5 Discuss and Record Transactions Applying the Two Commonly Used Freight-In Methods
    7. 6.6 Describe and Prepare Multi-Step and Simple Income Statements for Merchandising Companies
    8. 6.7 Appendix: Analyze and Record Transactions for Merchandise Purchases and Sales Using the Periodic Inventory System
    9. Key Terms
    10. Summary
    11. Multiple Choice
    12. Questions
    13. Exercise Set A
    14. Exercise Set B
    15. Problem Set A
    16. Problem Set B
    17. Thought Provokers
  8. 7 Accounting Information Systems
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 7.1 Define and Describe the Components of an Accounting Information System
    3. 7.2 Describe and Explain the Purpose of Special Journals and Their Importance to Stakeholders
    4. 7.3 Analyze and Journalize Transactions Using Special Journals
    5. 7.4 Prepare a Subsidiary Ledger
    6. 7.5 Describe Career Paths Open to Individuals with a Joint Education in Accounting and Information Systems
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Questions
    11. Exercise Set A
    12. Exercise Set B
    13. Problem Set A
    14. Problem Set B
    15. Thought Provokers
  9. 8 Fraud, Internal Controls, and Cash
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 8.1 Analyze Fraud in the Accounting Workplace
    3. 8.2 Define and Explain Internal Controls and Their Purpose within an Organization
    4. 8.3 Describe Internal Controls within an Organization
    5. 8.4 Define the Purpose and Use of a Petty Cash Fund, and Prepare Petty Cash Journal Entries
    6. 8.5 Discuss Management Responsibilities for Maintaining Internal Controls within an Organization
    7. 8.6 Define the Purpose of a Bank Reconciliation, and Prepare a Bank Reconciliation and Its Associated Journal Entries
    8. 8.7 Describe Fraud in Financial Statements and Sarbanes-Oxley Act Requirements
    9. Key Terms
    10. Summary
    11. Multiple Choice
    12. Questions
    13. Exercise Set A
    14. Exercise Set B
    15. Problem Set A
    16. Problem Set B
    17. Thought Provokers
  10. 9 Accounting for Receivables
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 9.1 Explain the Revenue Recognition Principle and How It Relates to Current and Future Sales and Purchase Transactions
    3. 9.2 Account for Uncollectible Accounts Using the Balance Sheet and Income Statement Approaches
    4. 9.3 Determine the Efficiency of Receivables Management Using Financial Ratios
    5. 9.4 Discuss the Role of Accounting for Receivables in Earnings Management
    6. 9.5 Apply Revenue Recognition Principles to Long-Term Projects
    7. 9.6 Explain How Notes Receivable and Accounts Receivable Differ
    8. 9.7 Appendix: Comprehensive Example of Bad Debt Estimation
    9. Key Terms
    10. Summary
    11. Multiple Choice
    12. Questions
    13. Exercise Set A
    14. Exercise Set B
    15. Problem Set A
    16. Problem Set B
    17. Thought Provokers
  11. 10 Inventory
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 10.1 Describe and Demonstrate the Basic Inventory Valuation Methods and Their Cost Flow Assumptions
    3. 10.2 Calculate the Cost of Goods Sold and Ending Inventory Using the Periodic Method
    4. 10.3 Calculate the Cost of Goods Sold and Ending Inventory Using the Perpetual Method
    5. 10.4 Explain and Demonstrate the Impact of Inventory Valuation Errors on the Income Statement and Balance Sheet
    6. 10.5 Examine the Efficiency of Inventory Management Using Financial Ratios
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Questions
    11. Exercise Set A
    12. Exercise Set B
    13. Problem Set A
    14. Problem Set B
    15. Thought Provokers
  12. 11 Long-Term Assets
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 11.1 Distinguish between Tangible and Intangible Assets
    3. 11.2 Analyze and Classify Capitalized Costs versus Expenses
    4. 11.3 Explain and Apply Depreciation Methods to Allocate Capitalized Costs
    5. 11.4 Describe Accounting for Intangible Assets and Record Related Transactions
    6. 11.5 Describe Some Special Issues in Accounting for Long-Term Assets
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Questions
    11. Exercise Set A
    12. Exercise Set B
    13. Problem Set A
    14. Problem Set B
    15. Thought Provokers
  13. 12 Current Liabilities
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 12.1 Identify and Describe Current Liabilities
    3. 12.2 Analyze, Journalize, and Report Current Liabilities
    4. 12.3 Define and Apply Accounting Treatment for Contingent Liabilities
    5. 12.4 Prepare Journal Entries to Record Short-Term Notes Payable
    6. 12.5 Record Transactions Incurred in Preparing Payroll
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Questions
    11. Exercise Set A
    12. Exercise Set B
    13. Problem Set A
    14. Problem Set B
    15. Thought Provokers
  14. 13 Long-Term Liabilities
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 13.1 Explain the Pricing of Long-Term Liabilities
    3. 13.2 Compute Amortization of Long-Term Liabilities Using the Effective-Interest Method
    4. 13.3 Prepare Journal Entries to Reflect the Life Cycle of Bonds
    5. 13.4 Appendix: Special Topics Related to Long-Term Liabilities
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary
    8. Multiple Choice
    9. Questions
    10. Exercise Set A
    11. Exercise Set B
    12. Problem Set A
    13. Problem Set B
    14. Thought Provokers
  15. 14 Corporation Accounting
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 14.1 Explain the Process of Securing Equity Financing through the Issuance of Stock
    3. 14.2 Analyze and Record Transactions for the Issuance and Repurchase of Stock
    4. 14.3 Record Transactions and the Effects on Financial Statements for Cash Dividends, Property Dividends, Stock Dividends, and Stock Splits
    5. 14.4 Compare and Contrast Owners’ Equity versus Retained Earnings
    6. 14.5 Discuss the Applicability of Earnings per Share as a Method to Measure Performance
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Questions
    11. Exercise Set A
    12. Exercise Set B
    13. Problem Set A
    14. Problem Set B
    15. Thought Provokers
  16. 15 Partnership Accounting
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 15.1 Describe the Advantages and Disadvantages of Organizing as a Partnership
    3. 15.2 Describe How a Partnership Is Created, Including the Associated Journal Entries
    4. 15.3 Compute and Allocate Partners’ Share of Income and Loss
    5. 15.4 Prepare Journal Entries to Record the Admission and Withdrawal of a Partner
    6. 15.5 Discuss and Record Entries for the Dissolution of a Partnership
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Questions
    11. Exercise Set A
    12. Exercise Set B
    13. Problem Set A
    14. Problem Set B
    15. Thought Provokers
  17. 16 Statement of Cash Flows
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 16.1 Explain the Purpose of the Statement of Cash Flows
    3. 16.2 Differentiate between Operating, Investing, and Financing Activities
    4. 16.3 Prepare the Statement of Cash Flows Using the Indirect Method
    5. 16.4 Prepare the Completed Statement of Cash Flows Using the Indirect Method
    6. 16.5 Use Information from the Statement of Cash Flows to Prepare Ratios to Assess Liquidity and Solvency
    7. 16.6 Appendix: Prepare a Completed Statement of Cash Flows Using the Direct Method
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Questions
    12. Exercise Set A
    13. Exercise Set B
    14. Problem Set A
    15. Problem Set B
    16. Thought Provokers
  18. Financial Statement Analysis
  19. Time Value of Money
  20. Suggested Resources
  21. Answer Key
    1. Chapter 1
    2. Chapter 2
    3. Chapter 3
    4. Chapter 4
    5. Chapter 5
    6. Chapter 6
    7. Chapter 7
    8. Chapter 8
    9. Chapter 9
    10. Chapter 10
    11. Chapter 11
    12. Chapter 12
    13. Chapter 13
    14. Chapter 14
    15. Chapter 15
    16. Chapter 16
  22. Index

The ultimate goal of accounting is to provide information that is useful for decision-making. Users of accounting information are generally divided into two categories: internal and external. Internal users are those within an organization who use financial information to make day-to-day decisions. Internal users include managers and other employees who use financial information to confirm past results and help make adjustments for future activities.

External users are those outside of the organization who use the financial information to make decisions or to evaluate an entity’s performance. For example, investors, financial analysts, loan officers, governmental auditors, such as IRS agents, and an assortment of other stakeholders are classified as external users, while still having an interest in an organization’s financial information. (Stakeholders are addressed in greater detail in Explain Why Accounting Is Important to Business Stakeholders.)

Characteristics, Users, and Sources of Financial Accounting Information

Organizations measure financial performance in monetary terms. In the United States, the dollar is used as the standard measurement basis. Measuring financial performance in monetary terms allows managers to compare the organization’s performance to previous periods, to expectations, and to other organizations or industry standards.

Financial accounting is one of the broad categories in the study of accounting. While some industries and types of organizations have variations in how the financial information is prepared and communicated, accountants generally use the same methodologies—called accounting standards—to prepare the financial information. You learn in Introduction to Financial Statements that financial information is primarily communicated through financial statements, which include the Income Statement, Statement of Owner’s Equity, Balance Sheet, and Statement of Cash Flows and Disclosures. These financial statements ensure the information is consistent from period to period and generally comparable between organizations. The conventions also ensure that the information provided is both reliable and relevant to the user.

Virtually every activity and event that occurs in a business has an associated cost or value and is known as a transaction. Part of an accountant’s responsibility is to quantify these activities and events. In this course you will learn about the many types of transactions that occur within a business. You will also examine the effects of these transactions, including their impact on the financial position of the entity.

Accountants often use computerized accounting systems to record and summarize the financial reports, which offer many benefits. The primary benefit of a computerized accounting system is the efficiency by which transactions can be recorded and summarized, and financial reports prepared. In addition, computerized accounting systems store data, which allows organizations to easily extract historical financial information.

Common computerized accounting systems include QuickBooks, which is designed for small organizations, and SAP, which is designed for large and/or multinational organizations. QuickBooks is popular with smaller, less complex entities. It is less expensive than more sophisticated software packages, such as Oracle or SAP, and the QuickBooks skills that accountants developed at previous employers tend to be applicable to the needs of new employers, which can reduce both training time and costs spent on acclimating new employees to an employer’s software system. Also, being familiar with a common software package such as QuickBooks helps provide employment mobility when workers wish to reenter the job market.

While QuickBooks has many advantages, once a company’s operations reach a certain level of complexity, it will need a basic software package or platform, such as Oracle or SAP, which is then customized to meet the unique informational needs of the entity.

Financial accounting information is mostly historical in nature, although companies and other entities also incorporate estimates into their accounting processes. For example, you will learn how to use estimates to determine bad debt expenses or depreciation expenses for assets that will be used over a multiyear lifetime. That is, accountants prepare financial reports that summarize what has already occurred in an organization. This information provides what is called feedback value. The benefit of reporting what has already occurred is the reliability of the information. Accountants can, with a fair amount of confidence, accurately report the financial performance of the organization related to past activities. The feedback value offered by the accounting information is particularly useful to internal users. That is, reviewing how the organization performed in the past can help managers and other employees make better decisions about and adjustments to future activities.

Financial information has limitations, however, as a predictive tool. Business involves a large amount of uncertainty, and accountants cannot predict how the organization will perform in the future. However, by observing historical financial information, users of the information can detect patterns or trends that may be useful for estimating the company’s future financial performance. Collecting and analyzing a series of historical financial data is useful to both internal and external users. For example, internal users can use financial information as a predictive tool to assess whether the long-term financial performance of the organization aligns with its long-term strategic goals.

External users also use the historical pattern of an organization’s financial performance as a predictive tool. For example, when deciding whether to loan money to an organization, a bank may require a certain number of years of financial statements and other financial information from the organization. The bank will assess the historical performance in order to make an informed decision about the organization’s ability to repay the loan and interest (the cost of borrowing money). Similarly, a potential investor may look at a business’s past financial performance in order to assess whether or not to invest money in the company. In this scenario, the investor wants to know if the organization will provide a sufficient and consistent return on the investment. In these scenarios, the financial information provides value to the process of allocating scarce resources (money). If potential lenders and investors determine the organization is a worthwhile investment, money will be provided, and, if all goes well, those funds will be used by the organization to generate additional value at a rate greater than the alternate uses of the money.

Characteristics, Users, and Sources of Managerial Accounting Information

As you’ve learned, managerial accounting information is different from financial accounting information in several respects. Accountants use formal accounting standards in financial accounting. These accounting standards are referred to as generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and are the common set of rules, standards, and procedures that publicly traded companies must follow when composing their financial statements. The previously mentioned Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), an independent, nonprofit organization that sets financial accounting and reporting standards for both public and private sector businesses in the United States, uses the GAAP guidelines as its foundation for its system of accepted accounting methods and practices, reports, and other documents.

Since most managerial accounting activities are conducted for internal uses and applications, managerial accounting is not prepared using a comprehensive, prescribed set of conventions similar to those required by financial accounting. This is because managerial accountants provide managerial accounting information that is intended to serve the needs of internal, rather than external, users. In fact, managerial accounting information is rarely shared with those outside of the organization. Since the information often includes strategic or competitive decisions, managerial accounting information is often closely protected. The business environment is constantly changing, and managers and decision makers within organizations need a variety of information in order to view or assess issues from multiple perspectives.

Accountants must be adaptable and flexible in their ability to generate the necessary information management decision-making. For example, information derived from a computerized accounting system is often the starting point for obtaining managerial accounting information. But accountants must also be able to extract information from other sources (internal and external) and analyze the data using mathematical, formula-driven software (such as Microsoft Excel).

Management accounting information as a term encompasses many activities within an organization. Preparing a budget, for example, allows an organization to estimate the financial performance for the upcoming year or years and plan for adjustments to scale operations according to the projections. Accountants often lead the budgeting process by gathering information from internal (estimates from the sales and engineering departments, for example) and external (trade groups and economic forecasts, for example) sources. These data are then compiled and presented to decision makers within the organization.

Examples of other decisions that require management accounting information include whether an organization should repair or replace equipment, make products internally or purchase the items from outside vendors, and hire additional workers or use automation.

As you have learned, management accounting information uses both financial and nonfinancial information. This is important because there are situations in which a purely financial analysis might lead to one decision, while considering nonfinancial information might lead to a different decision. For example, suppose a financial analysis indicates that a particular product is unprofitable and should no longer be offered by a company. If the company fails to consider that customers also purchase a complementary good (you might recall that term from your study of economics), the company may be making the wrong decision. For example, assume that you have a company that produces and sells both computer printers and the replacement ink cartridges. If the company decided to eliminate the printers, then it would also lose the cartridge sales. In the past, in some cases, the elimination of one component, such as printers, led to customers switching to a different producer for its computers and other peripheral hardware. In the end, an organization needs to consider both the financial and nonfinancial aspects of a decision, and sometimes the effects are not intuitively obvious at the time of the decision. Figure 1.3 offers an overview of some of the differences between financial and managerial accounting.

Chart with columns headed: Communication through Reporting; Financial Accounting; and Managerial Accounting (respectively): Users of reports; Primarily external users: stockholders, creditors, regulators; Internal users: mangers, officers, and other employees. Types of reports; Financial statements: balance sheet, income statement, cash-flow statement, etc.; Internal reports: job cost sheet, cost of goods manufactured, production cost report, etc. Frequency of reports; Quarterly, annually; As frequently as needed. Purpose of reports; Helps those external users make decisions: credit terms, investment, and other decisions; Assists the internal users in the planning and control decision-making process. Focus of reports; Pertains to company as a whole, Uses G A A P structure, Composed from a multitude or combination of other more individual data; Pertains to departments or sections of the business, Very detailed reporting, No G A A P constraints. Nature of reports; Monetary; Monetary and nonmonetary information. Verification of reports; Audited by C P A; No independent audits.
Figure 1.3 Comparing Reports between Financial and Managerial Accounting. (attribution: Copyright Rice University, OpenStax, under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license)
Citation/Attribution

Want to cite, share, or modify this book? This book is Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License 4.0 and you must attribute OpenStax.

Attribution information
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a print format, then you must include on every physical page the following attribution:
    Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/principles-financial-accounting/pages/1-why-it-matters
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a digital format, then you must include on every digital page view the following attribution:
    Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/principles-financial-accounting/pages/1-why-it-matters
Citation information

© Apr 11, 2019 OpenStax. Textbook content produced by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License 4.0 license. The OpenStax name, OpenStax logo, OpenStax book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University.